Maybe viewers found some surprise chills and jolts in 'Saw 3D,' but as far as the box office is concerned, the horror movie's debut played out pretty much exactly as expected. The result was a one-two punch for horror on Halloween weekend, with 'Saw 3D' grossing an estimated $24.2 million in ticket sales, while last week's winner, 'Paranormal Activity 2,' dropped to second place with an estimated $16.5 million.
The 'Saw' franchise, now on it's seventh (and supposedly final) installment, showed signs of dulled teeth last year when the first 'Paranormal Activity' stole much of its box office thunder. 'Saw VI' opened with just $14.1 million toward a total domestic gross of just $27.7 million, both record lows for the series. This year, the 'Saw' filmmakers helped their cause by making the movie in 3D (and ensuring a bonus from glasses rentals), marketing it as the final 'Saw,' and not opening it directly opposite 'Paranormal Activity 2.' (It also helped that there were no other new wide releases this week.) Still, given how played out the franchise is, $24 million was about all anyone expected.
Meanwhile, 'Paranormal Activity 2' took a hit, not just from the 'Saw' competition, but also from middling word of mouth. In its second weekend, it lost 59 percent of its business, which was in line with this weekend's predictions. Still, its two-week total is a not-at-all-shabby $65.7 million.
Action comedy 'Red,' in its third week, slipped a modest 28 percent, to an estimated $10.8 million and a third-place finish. Its total to date is $58.9 million.
'Jackass 3D,' competing with 'Saw 3D' for scarce real estate on 3-D screens, fell to No. 4, losing 60 percent of last week's business for an estimated take of $8.4 million. Still, that was enough to pull the movie across the $100 million mark, for a three-week total of $101.6 million.
Also suffering from middling word of mouth, afterlife drama 'Hereafter' added 243 new screens but lost 47 percent of last weekend's business. Placing fifth, it earned an estimated $6.3 million, for a total of $22.2 million to date.
Cracking its way into the top 10 was Hilary Swank's Oscar-hopeful drama 'Conviction,' coming in at No. 10 with an estimated $1.8 million. After two weeks in limited release, the film began its nationwide push this weekend, adding 500 more theaters. Having earned a respectable per-screen average of $3,230 (higher than any other top 10 movie except 'Saw 3D' and 'Paranormal Activity 2'), 'Conviction' claims a three-week total of $2.4 million.
The full top 10:
1. 'Saw 3D,' $24.2 million (2,808 screens), new release
2. 'Paranormal Activity 2,' $16.5 million (3,239), $65.7 million total
3. 'Red,' $10.8 million (3,349), $58.9 million
4. 'Jackass 3D,' $8.4 million (3,139), $101.6 million
5. 'Hereafter,' $6.3 million (2,424), $22.2 million
6. 'Secretariat,' $5.1 million (3,108), $44.8 million
7. 'The Social Network,' $4.7 million (2,767), $79.7 million
8. 'Life as We Know It,' $4.0 million (2,860), $43.5 million
9. 'The Town,' $2.0 million (1,6018), $87.6 million
10. 'Conviction,' $1.8 million (565), $2.4 million
•Follow Gary Susman on Twitter @garysusman.